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News

Improvements needed in mobile data protection for public services.

SafeBoot : 16 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
Safeboot reports alarming lack of sensitive data protection on mobile devices used in public sector organisations.
A survey this week found that 90 percent of the UK's local authorities lack adequate procedures for protecting mobile sensitive data.

Tom de Jongh, product manager, SafeBoot, a mobile security and data encryption specialist, feels this relaxed attitude to protecting citizens will lead to yet more data leakage headlines:

"Efficiency is a watchword in the public sector and flexible and mobile working practices continue at the forefront of the efficiency imperative. The benefits are often cited; work-life balance, efficiency savings, and gains, increased productivity, loyalty, reduced absenteeism. This is all great but the technology must be there to support such methods and security must, at the very least, be sufficient.

"Identity theft is costing the UK economy £1.7 billion a year and all organisations are facing mounting scrutiny. I am surprised that as much as 90 per cent of local authorities are still not shielding their citizens from the potential harm data leakage causes.

"In all situations where sensitive information is involved, it is essential to err on the side of caution. Never assume data is safe. Organisations should invest in encryption and authentication controls to make sure that only authorised individuals can access the information in question.

"The key to this is having a bit of common sense and thinking about the 'human factor'. Employees will also be the weakest point in an organisation's defence framework, so it's crucial that all possible weaknesses are considered. Implementing an organisation-wide security policy which ensures that detailed supplier-checks are carried out, that all devices (laptops, PDAs and USB sticks) are encrypted, and educating users that all information stored on their hardware is encrypted, is of paramount importance to any organisation. The public sector needs to learn from others' mistakes and ensure that they won't be tomorrow's headlines."

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